Heavenly Father, We come before You in submission and obedience, to listen to Your Word. We permit You to convict, correct, teach, train, and transform us into Your image, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
James 1: 1-27, salutation, trials, and temptations, be a doer and not a hearer of the Word
V 1, James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, Greetings.
In his opening salutation, James identified himself as the author. He spelled out his credentials, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. He identified his recipient as those belonging to the twelve tribes of Israel scattered abroad. These were the messianic Christian Jews of the diaspora. Messianic Jews are Christian Jews who believed Jesus as their Messiah. These diasporic Jews were dispersed out of Jerusalem due to persecution by the hostile unbelieving Jews after the martyrdom of Stephen, Acts 8:1.
Acts 8:1, “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
VV 2-8, 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
We should rejoice in the face of trials because trials are tests of faith. Faith produces patience, patience produces good works, and good works produce wisdom. If we lacked wisdom, we should pray for wisdom in faith. Greek for double-minded is “dipsychos”, which means wavering between two opinions. Anyone who did not pray with faith is unstable, double-minded, and should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
VV 9-11, 9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
James exalted the poverty-stricken Christians by glorifying them and admonished the rich Christians for their pride. People are as transient as the grass and flowers of the field that is here today and perishes tomorrow. Even rich people will perish through death. Everyone will be on a level playing field at death.
VV 12-15, 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
We should endure and overcome temptations to receive the crown of life. God sent trials to strengthen our faith. Satan sent temptations to lure and entice us into sin and death. God sent us trials but satan sent us temptations. Greek for temptation and testing is the same word “peirasmos’. We should look at the context of the sentence to determine which word is appropriate.
VV 16-18, 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Every perfect gift comes from God, the Father of lights. He gave us new life by the incorruptible seed of His word through the power of the Holy Spirit.
VV 19-20, 19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
We should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. The anger of man is incompatible with the righteousness of God.
VV 21-25, 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
We should avoid immorality, wickedness, and hold firmly to the saving word of God with meekness. We should obey God’s words after listening to them. Someone who listened to God’s word and did not do what it says is like a person who looked at his face in the mirror, moved away, and immediately forgets what his face looked like.
VV 26-27, 26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
We should control our tongue. Anyone who cannot control his tongue is a deceiver and his religion is useless. Greek for pure is “katharos”, which means purified by fire. We should practice pure religion by visiting orphans, widows and keeping ourselves morally pure.
We should rejoice when we face trials because trials are God’s tests of faith. We should always be humble because life is so transient, fragile, unpredictable, and uncertain. God will reward us if we endure and overcome trials as Christians. We should be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, avoid immorality, wickedness, and believe in God’s words with meekness.
Heavenly Father, help us to lay aside all filthiness and wickedness to and receive Your living Word with meekness. Help us control our tongue and speaks words of blessing, kindness, encouragement, and life to others. Help us be doers of Your word, and not hearers of Your Word, in Jesus’ name, Amen.